Bullish Hamilton banks on Red Bull to deter Rosberg

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton celebrating his Brazilian Grand Prix win to take the race for the driver's championship down to the wire. He trails his team-mate Nico Rosberg by 12 points ahead of the Abu Dhabi race.
Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton celebrating his Brazilian Grand Prix win to take the race for the driver's championship down to the wire. He trails his team-mate Nico Rosberg by 12 points ahead of the Abu Dhabi race.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • They let him down badly in Brazil but now Lewis Hamilton is hoping that his Red Bull rivals can do him a favour as he faces his last chance to claim the Formula One driver's championship ahead of Nico Rosberg.

Red Bull's bizarre decision to pull a hard-charging Max Verstappen into the pits for an unnecessary tyre change during the Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday handed second place back to Rosberg and an extra three points that could prove crucial at the final showdown.

Hamilton was baffled by a decision that could be the difference between winning and losing the world championship to his Mercedes team-mate.

"Unbelievable. When will it end?" Hamilton said, shaking his head. "Red Bull made such a big mistake with that call. That's what they did and it is a shame, but there is nothing I can do about it.

"Verstappen still had a great race and got back up to third, but it would be good if (Red Bull) made some good calls at the next race."

Every point counts as Formula One heads to Abu Dhabi next week for the final race of the season with Hamilton hoping that Verstappen and his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo can intervene to hamper Rosberg.

The German, who has 367 points, holds a 12-point advantage and needs only to finish third to win a maiden title even if Hamilton takes a fourth consecutive victory.

But the Briton has made it clear that he feels he is the better man.

"I am happy that I beat everyone," he said after the Brazilian Grand Prix.

"I am happy that in the same car I am beating Nico and he is driving at his best right now. Nico is doing all he has to do - and that is to finish every race.

"I am in an awkward position going into the last race. It doesn't matter if I drive there like I did in Brazil because I have already lost so much earlier in the year, but I don't give up because you don't know what can happen."

Because of his dedication and diligent consistency, Rosberg would make a worthy champion.

But Hamilton would be most people's favourite to come back even stronger next year.

THE TIMES, LONDON, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 16, 2016, with the headline 'Bullish Hamilton banks on Red Bull to deter Rosberg'. Print Edition | Subscribe